Displaced Chin Christians Begin New Life in Yangon

01/29/2021 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – The ongoing conflicts between the Arakan Army (AA) and the Tatmadaw (Burmese Army), together with the Coronavirus pandemic, have made the lives of minority Christians living in Rakhine state and neighboring Chin state even more difficult.

In search of better job opportunities and peace of mind, tens of thousands of Chin Christians fled their homes to seek shelter in other parts of the Buddhist majority country.

A Chin Christian, Kan Lwat, told Agence France-Presse (AFP), “We were the hosts of this war from two sides and we saw a lot of trouble.” He remembers artillery shelling on his town in Chin state.

According to AFP, the 36-year-old is the leader of about 80 Chin people who travelled more than 600km from the remote town of Paletwa to Myanmar’s sprawling commercial capital, where they spent brief stints in temporary camps.

They settled last month on a small plot of land in Yangon’s Hmawbi Township and decided to christen their village Baythala – or “Bethel” – the biblical town that served as a refuge for those in need, says Kan Lwat.

“It means Jesus was blessing and helping people in trouble with this place, which will be peaceful,” Kan Lwat added.

Yet the Christian IDPs still face many challenges, as they lack electricity and water, as well as job prospects. With the pandemic, it is increasingly difficult for the migrant workers to find jobs. They have been relying on donation from Christian organizations and Chin human rights groups.

Once the economic situation improves, the IDPs hope to send 30 or so children in the village to schools nearby so they can have a brighter future.

For interviews, please contact Communications Coordinator, Olivia Miller: press@persecution.org.

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